City defers decision on pride-painted crosswalk

Organizer asked council last week for permission to spice up the sidewalk between Spirit Square

Organizers of the first ever Pride Festival in Campbell River want to paint one of the downtown crosswalks in the rainbow colours of the pride flag.

Kelly Whiteside, organizer of the event, asked council last week for permission to spice up the sidewalk between Spirit Square – where the event is being held – and the Tidemark Theatre which is partnering with the Pride Festival.

The Tidemark is presenting Apocalypstick Pride Party, an East Vancouver drag show, on the same day and will be the featured evening event of the festival.

“In light of the fact that both events will be held directly across the street from each other, we would like to request permission to temporarily paint the crosswalks on either side of the Theatre with the rainbow colours of the pride flag,” Whiteside wrote in a letter to city council.

Whiteside noted that the City of Vancouver approved the permanent rainbow painting of the sidewalks and crosswalks on Davie Street where annual pride events are held and the City of Toronto approved similar permanent rainbow crosswalks in its Church Street neighbourhood.

Whiteside, however, was asking for the Campbell River crosswalks to be painted temporarily, between June 13 and 27, and suggested it could help liven up downtown.

“With the current city focus on revitalization of the downtown core, we feel that these rainbow crosswalks would fall within and complement this current mandate and continue to support a vibrant downtown cultural precinct,” Whiteside wrote.

Council, however, was hesitant to support the painting of city crosswalks without some sort of policy. Coun. Charlie Cornfield put forward a motion to approve the temporary painting of the crosswalks, subject to the use of materials as approved by city staff.

But Coun. Ron Kerr put forward a subsequent motion – which was passed –  to instead refer the issue to the city’s Advisory Planning and Environment Commission.

“If the Canada Day committee comes here next week and wants to paint (the crosswalks) red for Canada Day or the Netherlands Liberation Committee wants to paint them orange or the Irish dancers want to paint them green, each of those would have to come back to council,” Kerr said.

“The point I’m trying to make is I think we need policy on this so I’m proposing we refer this request to the Advisory Planning Commission and staff to develop a policy on this matter.”

But Cornfield noted that the commission does not meet before June 13 when Whiteside is asking for the rainbow-coloured crossswalk.

“I think it’s inappropriate to refer the motion to a date beyond what’s requested,” Cornfield said.

While Coun. Larry Samson agreed with Cornfield, Mayor Andy Adams said he too would like to see a policy developed.

“Just because we have a request I don’t think we need to knee-jerk on it, I think we need to do it right,” Adams said. “I think we need to be consistent and our way of being consistent is to have policy.”